The Switch

Changing the direction of power in a movement is not an easy task. We cannot interrupt the movement because is will also interrupt power generation. With every stop we have to start over again in generating power.
While your upper body muscles are directly involved with the action of the hand/arm, the force is generated throughout your body. Initial force is initiated by your lower body muscles and transferred through your core through to your upper body muscles. Any weakness or excessive tension in the transferring muscles will diminish the force and reduce performance.

6 major directions

We can move in many directions. Basically we consider 6 major directions. Other directions can be seen as a combination between 2 or 3 major directions and can become a spiral movement.
Movement can happen with the arms, the central body an/or the legs.

Switching between major directions

Switching is only possible when there is control of all the muscles involved.
An example how a switch can work can be more informative than words.

Kakae dori is an attack where an external pressure is applied to the body. Defending against such an attack needs a skill of expanding without using brute force.

If we allow the squeezing action of Uke, we will be thrown easily. If we can create a whole-body force against the squeezing, we will have the opportunity to free ourself. It is a question of using tension and relaxing at the same time. But how to do it?
It is based upon “opposing isometric force pairs”. There are of course other switching methods. If we suddenly, without any interuption, switch from outside tension to inside tension, uke may lose his grip and balance.

The exercise is to switch between internal and external pressure. The body needs to adapt to those 2 kinds of pressure images.

Push & pull vs. push-pull

Push&pull are two actions in a sequential order. Push-pull is one action. In the push-pull movement the balance between agonist and antagonist muscles creates a moving non-moving action. Push&pull or push-pull can be a straight line movement, a circular or a spiral movement.
When practising aikido or another martial art both action will be utilized to create attacking or defensive movements.
Again an example can be highly informative.

Push & pull

The first picture above is a push action into the ground, the second is the rebound of the power, the third picture is a pull action of the back foot bringing again close to the front foot to stabilize the equilibrium.

Push-pull

The first picture above is a push-pull action associated with holding a ball in the arm. Opposing isometric forces will move Uke around you.
The second picture is nearly a straight line push-pull. Although we said a straight line, the internal action relates to meguri. The meguri action is an internal spiral movement transmitted from the center of Tori to Uke through rotational movements of the hand/wrist/arm.The result will be a balance between a push-pull action. In other words an opposing isometric force.

Overlapping sequences

When we link all the singular movements of the body the result will be “rendo-movement”. During the performance of rendo movements, there are overlapping moments in the sequence of the actions. In the next example push & pull and push-pull are following a definite sequence.
But there is an overlapping between the different action in the sequence.

  • Picture1: grasping the arm
  • Picture2: pulling the arm
  • Picture3: body turn while keeping pulling
  • Picture4: keeping pulling and starting pushing
  • Picture5: keeping pulling and pushing while putting body into position to throw
  • Picture6: throwing and relaxing
Mae otoshi to gyaku gamae

Power needs some time to travel through the body, although this happens very fast. If we start too early our overlapping action, the force of the previous action will not be used to the full potential. If we start too late, the power of Rendo will be lost.

Tegatana dosa (tandoku undo) a switch exercise

Senta Yamada Tandoku Undo

These “tegatana dosa” are good examples to discuss switching the direction of force. As previously mentioned the mechanism of power generation:

While your upper body muscles are directly involved with the action of the hand/arm, the force is generated throughout your body. Initial force is initiated by your lower body muscles and transferred through your core through to your upper body muscles. Any weakness in the transferring muscles will diminish the force and reduce performance.

  • Uchi mawashi – Inside sweep

There are 4 arm actions in this exercise:

  • Turn the arm, palm hand up
  • Turn core of the body – tenshi
  • Switch the arm, palm hand down
  • Sweep the arm with body turn

If the exercise is done as 4 separate actions, there will be a reduced amount of power at the end of the movement. If the link between the 4 actions is established, there will be more power at the end of the movement. By using overlapping, performance will be more powerfull.

Using uchi mawashi in a paired exercise, proper unsoku (footwork) has to be added. Drilling the feet will increase efficiency.

Sotai dosa 3

In this example there is another concept which requires considiration.

We find Fibonacci Sequence at work in the principles, shapes, movements and strategies in nature but also within martial arts, by holding your arm with the correct angle at the elbow while extending your mind through the arm. The correct angle of human joints for movements has to be between 90* and 180°.

A push-pull and opposing isometric forces example
In the 7-hon-no-kuzushi gedan, spirals and opposing isometric forces are used to create balance disturbing. There are many variations, but basically all are build around spirals and opposing isometric forces.

we can see the Fibonacci spiral in combination with opposing isometric force pair. Uke will be fixed on the spot in an akward position.

  • Soto mawashi – Outside sweep

When using soto mawashi in partner training, some adaptations has to be done. The basic actions of uchi mawashi can be applied here too.

  • Turn the arm, palm hand up
  • Turn core of the body – tenshi
  • Switch the arm, palm hand up
  • Sweep the arm with body turn

Soto mawashi with partner after some adaptations.

  • Uchi gaeshi – soto gaeshi

In this sequence by Senta Yamada, the meguri concept is not visible. We only can guess if there is some internal movement invoking meguri.
In our research, the implementation of meguri and opposing isometric forces can increase the efficiency of these movement exponential. Switching the direction of forces is an aplication of meguri and opposing isometric forces and is needed to perform “waza” or techniques.

About shobukaidojo

A passion for Martial Arts since 1964

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